Carlo Ancelotti began the day play-fighting with Fernando Torres at Chelsea's training ground in Cobham. Sir Alex Ferguson started it by shielding Wayne Rooney from the glare of a training exercise, open to the media for 15 minutes at the direction of UEFA.
Head-to-head: Ancelotti's Chelsea will host Sir Alex Ferguson's United in the first leg of their quarter-final clash
Rooney missed 'a good part' of Tuesday's session in Manchester with a bruised shin, according to his manager, but skipped aboard the team's train to London at Macclesfield station and is expected to be ready for the Champions League quarter-final first leg at Stamford Bridge.
Ferguson chose to host his tea-time press conference at the home of cricket. In he rumbled off his long run and followed through with his fiercest stare. No questions on Rooney. That much was clear.
The siege barriers were slamming up as his team focused on the Treble. Questions on the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United in Moscow three years ago were, of course, welcome. United emerged victorious in the Russian capital after a penalty shootout.
'One of the best memories I've had playing for United,' said Patrice Evra, sitting alongside his manager in the Nursery Pavilion.
Watching brief: Ancelotti puts Chelsea through their paces during training on Tuesday
'One of the better European finals,' agreed Ferguson.'Winning is the name of the game. It was a great achievement for our club because it was the third time we'd won it.'
With this oblique nod towards Chelsea's obsession with the Champions League, the focus of attack had been diverted. They had come within touching distance of the prize their owner, Roman Abramovich, craves. In his own backyard too.
u This year, it is the only competition Ancelotti's team can seriously expect to win. Again the final has an element of romance for the Blues. It will be played at Wembley and no London club has ever won the European Cup.
'It is the driving force for Abramovich,' Ferguson stressed. 'He wants that the most. That's why he paid ?50million for Torres. They are desperate to win the European Cup but no more desperate than we are.'
Ferguson, as ever, is spot on. Abramovich's desire to win the Champions League and put his club among the greats of world football is all-consuming at Chelsea.
No sooner had they lost to United in Moscow, by the slimmest of margins, than Avram Grant was fired. Luiz Felipe Scolari came and went quickly before Guus Hiddink brought stability during a temporary tenure as Ancelotti negotiated his exit from AC Milan.
Ancelotti will tonight celebrate 100 games as Chelsea boss, no mean accomplishment considering the trigger-happy tendencies of Abramovich. It does not mean he escapes pressure, just that he is used to it after years working for Silvio Berlusconi.
He cites last year's European defeat at home by Inter Milan as the worst of his tenure and survived it by virtue of winning the Double in his debut season.
Another failure in the early knockout rounds may not be tolerated by the man who lured him from Italy and pays him ?6m a year. Ancelotti arrived with a reputation as a Champions League specialist, having won it four times, twice as a player and as a coach. Lose to United after a timid defence of the FA Cup and the Barclays Premier League title and the heat will intensify again.
100 UP FOR CARLO Carlo Ancelotti is celebrating his 100th game as Chelsea boss. HIS BEST: 'Against Manchester United away,' he says of the 2-1 win last April. 'To win meant we won the title there.' HIS WORST: 'Against Inter at home.' Jose Mourinho's side won 1-0 to reach the Champions League last eight last season. P99 W62 D19 L18.
Still he seems at ease. At least he does when compared with the 69-year-old who will bristle beside him at Stamford Bridge, exempt in Europe from his domestic touchline ban.
'My record in this competition is good, yes,' said Ancelotti. 'But I don't think Roman brought me here for this. I am here because he appreciated how Milan played in the past. There is no magic touch. Maybe I am a coach able to do a good job and give an identity to the team. One of the most important things is not to lose energy before a big game, not to be scared or afraid.'
Is Torres happy? The ?50m man without a goal in eight games for his new club. Can Ancelotti cajole him into life?
'He doesn't have a problem, the feeling is good,' said the Italian. 'He is not happy because he doesn't score but he is very happy to be here.'
With Didier Drogba back in the best form since his bout of malaria in the autumn and combining well with Nicolas Anelka at Stoke on Saturday, it leaves the Chelsea boss with a selection dilemma.
There are those in the camp who believe Drogba and Anelka is the most dangerous pair but can the manager omit Torres in the competition he was bought to win? All he would confirm yesterday was that Torres would play some part.
Compared with Ancelotti , Ferguson has few concerns. His defensive injury crisis is easing and Rio Ferdinand is back in the squad tonight and available to play for the first time since losing the England captaincy to John Terry. The United boss may feel persecuted by the authorities but he controls his club and he will be the one who decides when he leaves it. Howzat for a reason to lighten up?
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